Putting together a thru-hiking kit is a huge task… from your shelter to your headlamp to the food you eat along the way, it takes a lot to plan for a 2,000-mile hike. With thru-hikers coming from all sorts of financial backgrounds, we are putting together a series of posts with our recommendations for hikers of every budget who are still looking to shop from smaller manufacturers. This week, we’re focusing on high-quality backpacking food from small companies.
Keep in mind that we focus on cottage-industry goods here at Garage Grown Gear, so the food listed all comes from small companies, and is naturally set at a higher price point than a food kit comprised entirely of Knorr Pasta Sides, Little Debbies and scrounging for calories in hiker bins.
Also, check out our recommendations for the Big Three here, and the rest of the food from Garage Grown Gear here. And stay tuned for upcoming articles on accessories and clothing!
Green Belly Meals’ claim to fame is that they are a full meal in a bar form. Each of the four flavors of Green Belly Meals provide 1/3 of your daily calories with a balanced blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and it doesn’t get more convenient than a densely packed energy bar. The flavor combinations range from classic Dark Chocolate Banana to the clever Peanut Apricot.
Other great options: Backpacker’s Pantry, Trailtopia Ramen, Range Bars, and Nomad Nutrition
Cold soaking is experiencing a leap in popularity on long-distance trails. In the Old Days, people who didn’t want to cook while backpacking had to make do with tortillas and tuna packets. These days, a good ol’ Talenti jar and a variety of couscous packets make for much better no-cook meals. And now, there are prepackaged, cold-soak salads from Food for the Sole. Want to try just one? Our absolute favorite is the Peanut Super Slaw.
Other great options: Mary Jane’s Farm, Good To-Go, and Bushka’s Kitchen
Heather’s Choice Dehydrated Meals
A $15 meal is a luxury at the campsite, but these meals are packed with ingredients you can pronounce, tasty combinations, and some creative varieties. All of these lightweight meals are made in Alaska with organic, sustainable ingredients. You can also grab this brand’s snacks and a few less expensive meals. If you’re going to go big, try the Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder and the Chili with Grassfed Bison.
Other great options: Fernweh Food Company and PackIt Gourmet
A quick hit of proteins and good fats, these nut butter packets come in a variety of flavors and nut bases. The nuts are blended with good-for-you oils for a smooth snack that can be eaten on their own as an alternative to energy gels—which are typically packed with artificial ingredients. Trail Butter nut butters can also be spread on crackers or a tortilla for a more complete midday meal.
Other great options: Rx Bar Nut Butter and Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
Nomad Nutrition Chewy Banana Bites
This three-ounce bag packs a punch of potassium. Bananas are finicky snacks and indisputably hard to pack out from a town stop. This snack pack is the solution. These aren’t packed with a ridiculous amount of calories, but they are chewy and easy to pop in your mouth on the go, and there isn’t anything in the ingredients list that you won’t be able to pronounce.
Other great options: Kate’s Real Food Bars, Huppy Bar, Joe Chocolate and Taos Bakes
$33+ (12 pack)
These vegetarian, organic bars are for the very health conscious backpackers out there. They have no soy, no corn, no gluten, and no dairy, but they are packed with superfoods and each flavor is packed with trendy ingredients like maca, turmeric, kale, and ginger.
Other great options: Hnina Gourmet Sprouted Snack Pack, ProBar Meal Bars, Super James Bars, and Perfect Bars
$6.99 for 7 packets
At one dollar per packet, you really can’t go wrong here. Drink this coffee hot or iced, or mix it with your favorite powdered creamer for something fancier. This coffee is less fruity than some other varieties, and is a fairly moderate medium roast for a very reasonable price.
Other great options: Cafe Altura, Starbuck Via and Nguyen Steeped Coffee
Alpine Start Coconut Creamer Latte
$8.99 for 5 packets
This non-dairy specialty backcountry drink adds a kick to your normal instant coffee. Alpine Start blends their own instant coffee with a dehydrated coconut creamer for an instant backcountry latte that takes no barista, no espresso machine, and no milk foamer.
Other great options: Steeped Coffee, and Waka Instant Coffee
$3.49 per packet (2 servings per packet)
While the packets are technically two servings, most of us use these rich dark-roast instant coffee packets for one big ol’ 20-ounce tumbler full of coffee. CS Coffee uses fair trade coffee beans and all coffees are packaged by a company who hires people with disabilities.
Other great options: Cascadia Coffee Roasters, Kuju Coffee, and Treeline Coffee GEO
Awesome recommendations and a couple of brands I’d not yet heard of. I really appreciate the offerings for different budgets.